3 Things HMV’s Untimely End Taught Us About Digital Marketing Strategy


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article 2262399 16F1B45B000005DC 623 634x433Today could go down as a watershed moment in the retail industry in the UK. As HMV announced they were going into administration many began to speculate on the end of the physical music industry in the UK. Many people have been predicting that HMV and other big entertainment retailers would go the way of Blockbuster video for a while, but it’s still strange to imagine a world without HMV. If the stores do disappear, they will be missed.

The strange thing is, the clock has been ticking on HMV for years. The beginning of the end for retail CD and DVD sales came in 2003 with the launch of Apple’s iTunes store. You could argue that HMV have done well to last this long. Many will argue this was just the end of an inevitable road.

The thing is, it didn’t have to be this way. If HMV had adapted their strategy to embrace online retail and downloadable or streaming content, their brand recognition might have seen them rival iTunes or Netflix. They didn’t. Instead they stuck to their bricks and mortar guns and now they’re in administration. They’re staff will spend most of today refusing to honor gift vouchers. The rest of the day they’ll be thinking about job hunting.

So what does this have to do with digital marketing strategy? Every brand can learn lessons from the slow, painful death HMV appear to be suffering. The main reason their business is failing is the emergence of a high volume of more efficient, cheaper rivals. The very same thing could happen to brands that spend a lot of money on traditional marketing methods. Every brand has a digital marketing strategy these days, to be effective that strategy needs to evolve in line with the industry.

In the last 12 months we have seen significant changes in standard digital marketing strategy. Google’s Panda update changed the game for SEO. Pinterest and Instagram went from niche social networks to viable marketing channels. And the web officially went mobile with around 10% of all online activity conducted on a mobile device by the end of 2012.

The brands that failed to spot, or ignored, these trends are the ones who are likely to lose ground this year. So how do you stay on top of digital marketing strategy?

Keep Your Eyes Open

HMV’s collapse started when iTunes came into the market. It took a while to take off as a viable rival but it was immediately obvious that paid downloads were a ‘cool’ alternative to CDs. You could think of a song and own it without leaving you home, so why would you queue? HMV made no significant effort to enter the downloadable market and were slow to the online store market too. They failed to spot the value in the new trends.

Many marketers made the same mistake with social media. They thought it was a fad. Now every brand needs a social media strategy and the ones with the most success are the early adopters.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Core Strategy

One of the reasons HMV remained focused on CDs is because that was their core business. They saw themselves as a physical store that sold music, rather than a pure music retailer. That subtle difference led to their downfall. Many marketers fall into the same trap. They stick to tried and tested marketing methods and add a digital marketing strategy as an extra.

These days people spend far more time online than they do in front of traditional media. So why is digital marketing still an extra?

Don’t Rely on Existing Behavior

Behavior changes, it’s a fact of life. You can’t base business plans or marketing strategies on current behavior. Just because people like to buy CDs now doesn’t mean they will continue to buy them when a better alternative comes along. The same goes for digital marketing strategy. Just because Facebook is currently the most popular social network, there’s no guarantee that Google+, the new MySpace or something else won’t takeover in the next 2-3 years. You need to analyze consumer behavior and identify potential trends. If you look at new services and think ‘that’ll never work’ you could find yourself in trouble.

The key with digital marketing strategy is to move with the times. What you do today may not be as effective tomorrow, you need to remember that and make sure that when things do change you change along with them. Otherwise, like HMV, you could end up as a cautionary tale.

The purpose of your marketing strategy should be to identify and then communicate the benefits of what your business offers to your target market. Download Now our online marketing strategies tips for your business.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eoin Keenan
Media and Content Manager at Silicon Cloud. We help businesses to drive leads and build customer relationships through online marketing and social media. I blog mainly about social media & marketing, with some tech thrown in for good measure. All thoughts come filtered through other lives in finance, ecommerce, customer service and journalism.


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